General Manager Meetings begin today in Phoenix

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The first official hot stove season event gets underway today. It’s the General Manager Meetings. Which are basically the less-noticed but possibly more interesting younger brother to the Winter Meetings. They get underway today at the Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix and go through Thursday.

Officially there is Major League Baseball business on the agenda — nothing massive like big rules changes or anything — but the real value of the GM meetings is for execs to being laying the groundwork for trades and free agent signings this offseason. To have preliminary conversations with other GMs and with agents. In the past this meant laying the groundwork for deals in December at the Winter Meetings and later. However, last year there was a lot of action in later November soon after the GM meetings concluded. Which means that the rumors you hear this week, as opposed to last week, may have more heft to them and may be a lot closer to actual deals.

We’ve talked a lot about possible destinations for free agents, but maybe the more interesting teams to watch this week are the ones which have trade decisions to make. The Reds, who have several players, such as Johnny Cueto and Jay Bruce, entering their final year before free agency. The A’s, who could be in the market to trade a pitcher. The Phillies, who may be in the market to trade everything that isn’t nailed down. It may be easy for a GM to text an agent about, say, Pablo Sandoval last week or next week, but it’s pretty common for us to hear, right after a big trade happens in the offseason, things like “well, this all started when [other GM] and I had a conversation at the GM meetings  . . .”

So that’s what’s going down this week. Those preliminary conversations and, possibly, an actual deal. Keep it on HBT as, as is our custom, we will pass along all of the rumors and news as we hear it.

Ex-Angels employee charged in overdose death of Tyler Skaggs

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FORT WORTH, Texas — A former Angels employee has been charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl in connection with last year’s overdose death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, prosecutors in Texas announced Friday.

Eric Prescott Kay was arrested in Fort Worth, Texas, and made his first appearance Friday in federal court, according to Erin Nealy Cox, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. Kay was communications director for the Angels.

Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in the Dallas area July 1, 2019, before the start of what was supposed to be a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. The first game was postponed before the teams played the final three games.

Skaggs died after choking on his vomit with a toxic mix of alcohol and the powerful painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his system, a coroner’s report said. Prosecutors accused Kay of providing the fentanyl to Skaggs and others, who were not named.

“Tyler Skaggs’s overdose – coming, as it did, in the midst of an ascendant baseball career – should be a wake-up call: No one is immune from this deadly drug, whether sold as a powder or hidden inside an innocuous-looking tablet,” Nealy Cox said.

If convicted, Kay faces up to 20 years in prison. Federal court records do not list an attorney representing him, and an attorney who previously spoke on his behalf did not immediately return a message seeking comment.